In the ever-evolving landscape of tech advancement and development, businesses strive to adopt technology in new ways to drive innovation and growth, whether that’s internal automation, a new product to market or even a new website. However, not all technology projects reach the heights of success they aim for. Failure to execute properly can result in wasted time, money, and resources, missed opportunities, and damage to the reputation of the business.

Let’s explore some of the most common reasons that during the transition from idea to reality and launch, technology development doesn’t live up to expectations.

Measures of Success

Deciding whether your development is a success or failure hinges on what its measurements of success are. Beyond aiming to ‘increase revenue’, set either a monetary or percentage uplift target that abides by SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound). When aiming for users, focus not only on the number of signs ups, but also your active users – as an example, Meta’s Threads quickly hit 100m registered users, but by the end of July, it was believed that only 13m of them were daily active users (DAU).

Defining clear measures makes the decision of whether a product was a success or failure much more objective as you have clear benchmarks that any judgement is based upon.

Difficulty in Delivering to Deadline

A primary point of failure in any technology development is difficulty in delivering to a deadline, be it because of project complexities, available personnel, or otherwise.

In many projects, the deadline is decided before any form of product scope with the aim of being first to market, which often gives no margin of accounting for complexities and knowledge gaps or other commitments. Ultimately, hyper-focus on a deadline can lead to cut corners and poor overall execution. Whilst there is a first-mover advantage in technology of being the first to deliver, there is a second-mover advantage of delivering and not making the mistakes of a predecessor.

Ideally, deadlines are calculated from a product scope. Having completed your product discovery, research, and scoping, your deadline is the result of a realistic formula.

Understanding Your Development Milestones

When building tech, it’s easy to focus on ‘the big picture’ and the first major release (your “v1” product), so much so that it’s easy to bypass the proof of concept (PoC) and minimum viable product (MVP) phase, where either of these points can help to highlight the potential, or lack of, that your development has.

Your PoC demonstrates the feasibility of a concept or technology, helping validate its potential before full development. It’s about showing “Can it be done?” and most importantly “Does the problem we’re looking to solve exist?”

Your MVP is a basic version with core features that address a specific user problem. It’s released to gather user feedback and validate assumptions, answering “Does it solve the problem?”

Version 1 is the first complete product release, encompassing broader functionality. It’s the initial version ready for the market, signalling the transition from development to user adoption.

Lack of Clear Vision and Goals

A clear vision and well-defined goals lay the foundation for any successful technology project. Without a clear direction, confusion sets in and teams may lose sight of the project’s purpose. Understand who your stakeholders are and what they’d achieve from the proposed development to establish a concrete vision and set clear, measurable goals from the outset.

Successful projects start with a shared understanding of the desired outcome.

Poorly Defined Requirements (Scope Creep)

Technology projects thrive on detailed and well-defined requirements. Vague or changing requirements can lead to scope creep, where the project’s scope expands beyond its original boundaries and ultimately the solution no longer delivers on its core aim.

Effective discovery and scoping is an essential pre-development step for technology success.

Inadequate Technical Expertise

A skilled and knowledgeable development team is the backbone of any technology project. Relying on inexperienced or under-qualified team members or agencies that overpromise and under-deliver can lead to subpar solutions and technical debt. To mitigate this, carefully consider the long-term tradeoffs of experienced recruitment versus outsourcing development, or supplementing an existing team with a provider such as Embeddable. Keep your milestones in mind – you may be able to build a proof of concept or minimum viable product with an external provider to begin to generate revenue, using revenue generated from this to begin to bring development expertise in-house.

User & Stakeholder Communication

No matter how advanced the technology, user needs and experience remains paramount. Neglecting your users by building without research or consulting potential purchasers can result in products that fail to resonate with the intended audience. To avoid this, prioritise user needs and incorporate feedback throughout the development process. User-centric products, whether this be an internal solution to your business or a new product to market, are more likely to gain traction and deliver long-term value.

Technology projects involve various stakeholders, from developers and designers to business leaders and end-users. Poor communication between these groups can lead to misunderstandings, conflicting priorities, and missed opportunities for innovation. Fostering a collaborative environment is crucial. Regular meetings and open communication channels (both sync and async), and cross-functional teams can bridge the gap and align everyone toward shared goals.

Overlooking Quality Assurance and Testing

Rushing a technology project without proper testing can lead to disaster. Releasing products with bugs and defects damages the reputation of the business and can lead to costly post-launch fixes. Implement comprehensive quality assurance and testing measures throughout the development process. Manual and automated testing and continuous integration can help maintain product quality and prevent last-minute surprises.

Underestimating Risks and Challenges

Every project carries inherent risks, from technical challenges to unforeseen obstacles. Ignoring these risks or failing to address them in advance can lead to project delays, budget overruns, and ultimately, project failure. Identifying potential risks early and having mitigation strategies in place is essential. A proactive approach to risk management minimises the impact of unforeseen setbacks.

Resistance to Change

While technological developments bring progress, they also require changes in workflows, processes, and mindsets. Resistance to change within the organisation can hinder the successful adoption of new technologies. Encourage a culture of innovation, and communicate the benefits of the proposed changes. A clear understanding of how the new technology aligns with business goals can ease the transition.

For Success, Embed Experience

Taking technology development to success can be an extensive and expensive process that requires a wide range of expertise, from design and programming to product management and post-launch sales.

Effective product discovery and scoping and the setting of clear, measurable objectives from the outset are pivotal to success, whilst also building with a clear roadmap and achievable deadline that aligns with the availability and skills of your team.

At Embeddable, we specialise in working with ambitious businesses to nurture ideas into scoped product development plans and work as a lead, or alongside an existing team, to build measurable technology solutions.